7-year-old Indonesian girl found dead after days of earthquake rescue operation

7-year-old Indonesian girl found dead after days of earthquake rescue operation

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7-year-old Indonesian girl found dead after days of earthquake rescue operation

Cianjur (AFP) –

Dicky Bisinglasi with Marchio Gorbiano in Jakarta

A seven-year-old Indonesian girl who was the subject of a day-long rescue effort after an earthquake in West Java killed at least 272 people was found dead, rescuers told AFP on Friday.

Rescue workers found the body of Ashika Nur Fauziah, also known as Cika, under rubble in the city’s worst-hit neighborhood of Cianjur, the epicenter of the quake that triggered landslides, collapsed roofs, walls and buried victims in mounds on Monday.

“The body was immediately given to the family,” rescuer Jeksen Kolibu, 28, told AFP. “The family … was very sad. The mother was the one who received the body.”

Dozens of rescuers had spent most of Thursday using digging tools, hammers and their bare hands to clear debris in the delicate mission, which was suspended overnight.

Cika was found under three layers of concrete on Friday morning, Kolibu said. Workers found her face down, encased in debris and with little room to breathe.

Rescuers covered her face and put her in a body bag while her father Ahmad looked on, desperately holding his head. He didn’t say a word when she was handed to him.

Cika was buried in a nearby cemetery less than an hour after she was found.

At the funeral, a cleric tried to calm a clearly emotional Ahmad.

Cika was then wrapped in a white sheet and lowered into the ground by three men while exhausted volunteers and firefighters looked on.

– ‘That makes me sad’ –

The focus of the search was her grandmother’s house across from the family home, where her mother believed she was playing when the earthquake struck.

“She was playing outside, I was cooking in the kitchen, suddenly the earthquake happened, so fast, just two seconds, my house collapsed,” her mother Imas Masfahitah, 34, told AFP on Thursday.

“Whatever happens, I’ll try to accept it,” she added, crying as she clutched her daughter’s sandals.

Hopes for a happy ending had been raised after the dramatic rescue of a six-year-old boy, Azka, on Wednesday night, which was described as a “miracle”, after he survived more than two days in the rubble without food and water.

“The mother was very hopeful. Azka survived, Cika didn’t. That makes me sad,” said Kolibu.

Before Cika was found, authorities said 39 people were still missing as rescue efforts were hampered by torrential rain and potentially deadly aftershocks.

Many of those killed in the quake were children, some in school, according to officials.

More than 2,000 people were injured, 56,000 homes were damaged and more than 62,000 people had to be evacuated to emergency shelters, leaving many homeless without adequate supplies.

Indonesia is subject to frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates collide.

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